Sport steps down as mayor, Walker takes office

Published 9:17 am Wednesday, October 28, 2015

After serving as mayor of Luverne for a little more than 15 years, Joe Rex Sport has resigned.

For him the decision was a difficult one, but one that he made with absolute confidence.

“I’ve enjoyed it, and it’s been a good experience,” said Sport. “It was my decision, I didn’t have any coercion, any pressure or anything else. I was ready to go, and I felt like in my years I have contributed all I have to contribute.”

Sport believes that the time has come for “new blood” to come to office, and he is confident that the next permanent mayor, along with Dr. Patrick Walker as the temporary mayor, will be able to bring fresh ideas and perspectives into the office.

“I’ve been in public service for 57 years in one way or another,” said Sport. “All of my work, basically, has been dealing with the public. I think that’s been one of the strongest assets I’ve had.”

He has played a role on the Luverne City Council as a member, has acted as the superintendent of education, has served as the principal for Highland Home School and finally served as the mayor.

“The whole point is to do things that serve the people of this community. I have emphasized it to all in the office that we are here to serve the people. They do not serve us, we serve them,” said Sport.

Walker was sworn into office Monday night.

Walker previously held a seat on the city Council and had already told his fellow council members that it would most likely be his last term serving when he was approached with the idea of taking over for Sport. Since the mayor pro-tem, Charlie Johnson, wanted to retain his seat on the council, Walker was the ideal candidate since he has held a council seat longer than other members, with the exception of the mayor pro-tem.

Walker knows it will be difficult to split his time between his medical practice and working as the mayor, but he is excited to accept the challenge and to serve his city.

“I’ll be working with the city council and hopefully there will be some things we can do during this 10 month period,” said Walker. “There are things we’ve talked about that are ongoing, and we will just gradually do them as time permits and as money permits.”

An election will be held at the end of the 10 months to decide who will permanently take the position of mayor. While at this time Walker does not believe he will be throwing his name into the ring, he is confident that in these next 10 months, he will be able to continue to serve the community the same way Sport has in the past.

When time came to choose a replacement, the only recommendation Sport gave to the council was that the position be opened first and foremost to any councilmember who showed an interest.

“I think he (Walker) is very qualified because he has the expertise of helping people,” said Sport. “He is calm, cool and collected. He doesn’t get riled or upset, and he has that demeanor. He’s so highly respected, too.”